Coalition Aims to Strengthen Domestic Violence Laws to Better Protect Victims

RALEIGH — Athletes who have the spotlight shone on them on the grid-iron are now bringing the ever present danger of domestic violence out of the shadows. One case close to home is Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy, who was found guilty in Mecklenburg County this summer of assaulting his former girlfriend.

This is just one of many domestic violence cases that fill the courts in North Carolina, in many forms.

“There are a lot of different crimes that can be charged under the umbrella of domestic violence,” said Ned Mangum, the Wake County district attorney. “It can be almost anything.”

Wake County assigns two assistant DAs full time to deal with all misdemeanor charges, and senior prosecutors take on the felony cases. But Mangum says domestic violence is one of the more difficult types of cases to prosecute.

“It’s very different from a driving while license revoked or even a driving while impaired case, where it is often a police officer and what that officer sees, and somebody charged with a crime based on a motor vehicle. These are much more complex in dealing with the family dynamic,” said Magnum.

At The North Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence, staff is constantly looking at North Carolina laws to see if they are the right balance to protect victims.

“Most of the time if someone perpetrates domestic violence, they are charged with a misdemeanor,” said Amily McCool, the Coalition’s system’s advocacy coordinator. “So in North Carolina, an assault on a female is a misdemeanor, assault with a deadly weapon is a misdemeanor, assault inflicting serious injury is a misdemeanor. People are usually surprised by that. That the most that any of those crimes carry is 150 days. That you can break someone’s bones and it can be a misdemeanor, whereas in North Carolina if you steal pine straw, that’s a Class H felony.”

In 2004, North Carolina lawmakers made a major push to strengthen laws associated with domestic violence. A House select committee helped craft bills, which later became law, that did everything from make non-fatal strangulation a felony, to better train law enforcement, to granting warrantless arrest authority for violation of pretrial release conditions.

But when it comes to pre-trial release, the Coalition says there is some gray area with the law.

“So even though it says it is domestic violence pre-trial release, it doesn’t apply for instance to dating partners,” said McCool. “And all those same concerns of why you would want someone to be held is still there.”

It also doesn’t apply to same sex couples.

“We know in the domestic violence field that domestic violence occurs at the same rate in same sex relationships as heterosexual relationships,” said McCool.

For those fighting to stop domestic violence, they say through laws, education and prevention they hope to reduce the new domestic violence victims in the state.

“Unfortunately victims of domestic violence are often scared,” said Mangum. “They don’t trust the process. We try to educate them and help them go through this process together.”

– Loretta Boniti

Speech by Medal of Honor Recipient Begins Presidential Event

CHARLOTTE—One of the first speakers of the day at the convention was Kyle White, a Charlotte resident and recent Medal of honor Recipient, who addressed the crowd on the importance of giving back.

President Obama gave the retired Army Sergeant one of the nation’s highest military honors in May for his heroism during a four hour fight while he was deployed in Afghanistan.

White told the crowd that their service does not end when the uniform comes off.

He said he has chosen to dedicate his life to reducing the stigma surrounding post traumatic stress disorder.. his goal is to encourage veterans to seek help for their mental health… but white told veterans there are plenty of different ways to give back.

“Whether your service is working with blood donor programs, volunteering to cleanup the aftermath of natural disasters, working with the USO and Special Olympics, working on adult mentor programs, building houses with habitat for Humanity, or standing in front of people to say it is OK for service members to say they need help. Service is what defines us,” said White.

Sergeant White also handed out several service awards at the event.

The Pizza Man Impact

     In the past couple months there has been some considerable discussion about the impact of Libertarian candidate Sean Haugh on North Carolina’s U.S. Senate race.  In my interviews with him, the focus of his campaign centers on stopping all wars.  He’s raised some attention for his unique campaign videos as well.  However, recent polling has even caught the eyes of journalists in Washington, D.C.  Between Civitas and Public Policy Polling, Haugh has received 11%, 8%, 11%, 9%, 8%, and 7% respectively in those polls since mid May.  The surprising and consistent polling led to a Washington Post article and several other national television interviews.  But can he really make a difference in November?  Some analysts argue it could hurt House Speaker and Republican Thom Tillis.  Haugh has argued to me that he believes support comes from Democrats as well. 

So can Haugh really play spoiler?  I decided to look up some NC Board of Elections stats to see how tough of a task he faces at the polls.  First, let’s take a look at registered voters who identify themselves as Libertarians.




     As you can see the number of registered Libertarians has nearly tripled since 2010, however the 2014 total is still just .04% of registered voters in North Carolina.  That does not mean Sean Haugh will only get .04% of the vote because the chart below shows prior Libertarian candidates getting much more than that in previous elections.  Clearly, unaffiliated voters and disgruntled Republicans and Democrats have cast a ballot for Libertarian candidates in the past.  However, prior election results do show the tough task Sean Haugh has in the U.S. Senate race.



      As the graph shows, vote totals ranged from roughly 33,807 in 2002 to 133,430 in 2008.  Keep in mind, the 2004 and 2008 elections were also presidential election years.   Here’s where the numbers show Haugh’s current poll numbers may wane.  The percentage of the total vote was just 1.5% for Sean Haugh in 2002, 1.4% for Tom Bailey in 2004, 3.1% for Christopher Cole in 2008 and 2.1% for Michael Beitler in 2010. 


     What does this all mean?  At most, a Libertarian candidate has received 3.1% of the vote in U.S. Senate races since 2002.  This is not meant to undermine the potential impact of Sean Haugh.  In a race that is considered a toss up, a percentage point here or there could tip the scales in Thom Tillis or Kay Hagan’s favor.  However, it seems the 7%, 8% or even 11% in polls appears to be disgruntled voters and history shows they will likely move to one major party candidate or the other after Labor Day.  It does, however, show both major party candidates likely have some making up to do with their base before election day. 




NC Lottery Begins ‘All or Nothing’ in September

RALEIGH—The NC Education Lottery starts its first numbers game in more than four years next month.

The twice-daily ‘All Or Nothing’ game begins on Sept. 7. Players pick 12 numbers one to 24.

There is a $250,000 top prize if “all or none ” of the 12 numbers match those drawn.

Lottery officials say the draw game will help the lottery meet its new goal of raising $520 million for education.

This is the sixth draw game for the NC lottery.

In Depth: 40th anniversary of Watergate

This week is the 40th anniversary of Watergate and President Richard Nixon’s resignation. There are North Carolina ties to that time in history. Raleigh attorney and former secretary of state and attorney general Rufus Edmisten had a role in the Watergate investigation and joins us now. Watch the interview here.

NC Towing Fees Could Be Increasing

WILMINGTON, N.C. — Recently, the N.C. State Supreme Court ruled that cities have the authority to regulate towing within public properties; however, they cannot put a cap on private towing fees.

The state supreme court recently ruled that cities can’t put a cap on a private property tow.

Diva Recovery owners Tonya Thompson and Renee Register say this ordinance will not lift their fees too much.

“A reputable business is not going to try to rob somebody. We want to be paid fairly for what they do and they want to feel like they’ve gotten at least a fair charge for having moved the vehicle,” said Thompson.

The public property tow cap will stay at $100 dollars and $150 to pick up a car from a wreck.

“You know we’re here to do a job for the private property owners. Whereas the city of Wilmington, you know we signed up to be on that rotation list, and we will follow, you know, every rule there is and we get that. But when it comes to private property tows, it’s a different ballgame,” said Diva Recovery’s Renee Register.

An example of a private towing fee would include a condo parking lot where there’s a sign that displays towing is enforced for any drivers that aren’t authorized to park.

“Whatever they are charging I’m sure is pretty fair…because I definitely can’t have anybody park on my lots any longer than a couple of hours,” said Mike Morris, Morris Property Management owner.

Whether it’s public or private properties, Diva Recovery says illegal parkers will pay the price.

“Ultimately we are here to manage that property because we were hired to do so and that’s what our sign represents when you pull into a parking lot,” said Register.

– Carly Swanson

NC Budget Negotiators Find Agreement on Medicaid Overhaul

RALEIGH—The state House approved a bill aimed at overhauling North Carolina’s Medicaid system.

The agreement comes after many of the state’s health providers stood behind the proposal.

Medicaid costs the state around $4 billion each year. The plan aims to control the costs by putting the cost saving burden on providers.

For their part, the healthcare industry supported the plan.

“We think it gives us the path to move forward, in not only delivering great patient outcomes to our patients but delivery in the cost savings and predictability that you are looking for. So we are supportive of this bill,” said Chip Baggett of the NC Medical Society.

The bill moved from committee to the House floor on Wednesday where it was approved 113-0.

The legislation now goes to the Senate where lawmakers have made a much different proposal for Medicaid overhaul.

– Loretta Boniti

NC Supreme Court Strikes Down Cellphone Law

RALEIGH–Chapel Hill’s law banning cellphone use while driving has been struck down by the North Carolina Supreme Court.

The justices’ decision Thursday overturned an earlier Court of Appeals ruling. The court unanimously agreed that state law pre-empted the town’s ability to regulate highways and roads and prohibited the town’s enforcement of the cellphone ban.

The court also struck down a separate town ordinance regulating towing.

George King runs a towing business in Chapel Hill and sued the town challenging both laws. King said he could not obey the town’s towing laws, which requires that a tower notify police within 15 minutes of the tow without breaking its cellphone ordinance banning the use of cellphones while driving.

Copyright 2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Former Edwards Campaign Aide Facing Charges

RALEIGH—The former John Edwards aide who wrote a tell-all book is now facing charges in Wake County.

Andrew Young, 48, was arrested by Raleigh police Sunday on Rock Quarry Road for driving while impaired and misdemeanor child abuse.

He was a member of Edwards’ 2008 presidential campaign and later wrote a book about Edwards and his affair with staffer Rielle Hunter.

Young originally claimed paternity of Edwards’ child with Hunter, and later testified against his former boss during Edwards’ 2012 campaign finance trial.

Poet, Educator and Civil Rights Advocate Dr. Maya Angelou, 86, dies

WINSTON-SALEM — Maya Angelou, writer of the classic autobiography “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” has died. She was 86.

Her death comes days after canceling her appearance at the Major League Baseball Beacon Awards luncheon, where she was to be honored.

We’re told she was found unresponsive inside her Winston-Salem home.

Angelou was a renowned poet, historian and civil rights advocate. As an actress and screen writer, she was hailed as a trailblazer. Her script for the film Georgia was the first ever by an African American woman. It was also nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.

Dr. Angelou’s literary agent and friend of 30 years said,”She has been in frail health for a while. It’s just a shock.” 

President Barack Obama released a statement on her passing:
When her friend Nelson Mandela passed away last year, Maya Angelou wrote that “No sun outlasts its sunset, but will rise again, and bring the dawn.”

Today, Michelle and I join millions around the world in remembering one of the brightest lights of our time – a brilliant writer, a fierce friend, and a truly phenomenal woman. Over the course of her remarkable life, Maya was many things – an author, poet, civil rights activist, playwright, actress, director, composer, singer and dancer. But above all, she was a storyteller – and her greatest stories were true. A childhood of suffering and abuse actually drove her to stop speaking – but the voice she found helped generations of Americans find their rainbow amidst the clouds, and inspired the rest of us to be our best selves. In fact, she inspired my own mother to name my sister Maya.

Like so many others, Michelle and I will always cherish the time we were privileged to spend with Maya. With a kind word and a strong embrace, she had the ability to remind us that we are all God’s children; that we all have something to offer. And while Maya’s day may be done, we take comfort in knowing that her song will continue, “flung up to heaven” – and we celebrate the dawn that Maya Angelou helped bring.

In a statement Gov. Pat McCrory said, “Dr. Maya Angelou was a giant in every endeavor she chose to devote her talents,” said Governor McCrory. “She counseled presidents and historic figures such as Dr. Martin Luther King. Yet, she’ll be remembered most for her compassion for people around the world, regardless of their station in life. Maya Angelou was a tremendous source of pride for North Carolina and her adopted state is grieving her loss.”

Wake Forest University released the following statement about Dr. Angelou’s death:

“Today members of the Wake Forest University community mourn the loss of beloved poet, author, actress, civil rights activist and professor Dr. Maya Angelou.

Dr. Angelou was a national treasure whose life and teachings inspired millions around the world, including countless students, faculty, and staff at Wake Forest, where she served as Reynolds Professor of American Studies since 1982.

Our thoughts and prayers are with Dr. Angelou’s family and friends during this difficult time.”

Memorial arrangements for Angelou have not yet been released.